The outright cancellation of South By Southwest back on March 6th of last year ushered in the first wave of many COVID-19 cancellations and postponements that would engulf the live events industry around the world in 2020. In October, organizers for the annual Austin multimedia festival and convention announced the 2021 event will take place entirely online. On Wednesday programmers further revealed that one of the highlight keynote speakers for SXSW Online 2021 would be none other than Austin music icon Willie Nelson.
“No individual has had the cultural impact on, or been more synonymous with the creative vibrancy of Austin than Willie Nelson, and we are incredibly honored to have him as a SXSW Online 2021 Keynote,” SXSW Chief Programming Officer Hugh Forrest said in a statement with Wednesday’s announcement. “In addition to dozens of incredible Featured Speakers, today’s announcement also includes more than 200 sessions curated from our global community via PanelPicker, and is a key part of the premium content you can expect from SXSW Online 2021.”
This year’s online festival will take place March 16th-20th, and is set to feature an array of over 50 speakers, 230 conference sessions, film festival screenings, music showcases, and much more while traditional in-person gatherings remain on hiatus. SXSW organizers also revealed a preview of the speaking lineup for the virtual event which will include Samantha Bee, Richard Branson, Nicholas Britell, Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), The Chainsmokers, Chiquis, Taraji P. Henson, Barry Jenkins, Matthew McConaughey, Queen Latifah, LL COOL J, and more.